Happy Scottsdale Arabian Week!

We’re honoring the iconic annual Arabian horse show with a video roundup of our personal favorite: the liberty class.

The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show is taking place right now in Scottsdale, Arizona — the show kicked off last week on February 11 and runs through this weekend, wrapping up on the 21st. Arabians and half-Arabians from all over the country gather in Scottsdale in February to showcase the versatility and beauty of this breed, competing in everything from halter to driving to dressage to reining and everything in-between.

There are also a few classes fairly unique to the Arabian breed, and the liberty class has to be out absolute favorite. To the lay equestrian, the two minutes in the ring looks absolutely insane: handlers who somehow always seem to be wearing shiny vests and bowler hats are towed into the arena at the end of the lead of a very hot and excited-looking Arabian who is then turned loose to run around wildly while music is blasted at concert volume. (If you happen to be one of those people who believe that Arabians are inherently crazy, this is really just going to fuel your argument.)

But, as with many disciplines and events in the equestrian world, there’s more going on than meets the eye. Yes, the horses are certainly encouraged to show plenty of fire, encouraged by the handlers waving whips and the ear-piercing shrieks of the crowd (not to mention the pounding pop, techno or dance music). However, it’s not all just “running around like a crazed banshee” (as we may have mentioned back in 2012) — liberty horses are judged in five categories including type, conformation and quality, charisma and presence, movement and performance.

In the liberty class, horses are turned loose for two minutes with a song selection of the entry’s choice. At the time mark — here’s the kicker — the horse must be caught and removed within two minutes or it is disqualified. So what might appear to be a totally out-of-control horse thundering wildly around the arena all blowy and snorty is actually a fairly carefully-orchestrated performance (seriously though, try free-lunging a hot horse for exactly two minutes in a high-energy setting and then try catching him again — I bet it will take you a lot longer than that). Click here for a full class description and score card.

The end result is one of the most iconic experiences at Scottsdale. Here are some industry professionals explaining what to look for (we also love this video because we have to admit that the faux-middle-eastern techno-pop is a nice touch):

And here’s a classic drag-your-bowler-hat-wearing-handler-into-the-arena entry, complete with “Sexy and I Know It” and capped off by a very mannerly recapture at the end of the performance.

And this stunner has the crowd eating out of his hand: every time he whips his head in a “b—- I’m fabulous” moment, the entire place erupts.

Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

For more information about the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, check out the official website.

Go Arabians. Go riding!

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